December 18, 2021
When the word ‘Education” comes to our mind, we generally tend to think of a pen, a textbook, a notebook, a school bus, a school bag, the school and its infrastructure. All these things are about the physical aspect of education. We may then ask ourselves, “How is Education an agent of change?” Education becomes an agent of change only when it goes through an intermediate agent, viz. the people. First and foremost, people have to bring about the desired change in themselves through education. In the words of Paulo Freire, “Education does not transform the world. Education changes people. People change the world.”
Sadly, most people associate change with physical and external growth. Often, they get fixated on that. After a period of time, such physical and external growth becomes static. Education, on the contrary, refers to development which we know is dynamic in nature. It takes into account multiple dimensions of change such as the physical, social, cognitive, emotional, spiritual, moral and ethical. Evidently, all these elements of development – taken as a whole and not in parts - make a human being perfect and complete.
Unfortunately, what we see today is that the current education system focuses mainly on cognitive development, forgetting that it is just one of the elements of development. The present-day children are stressed too much owing to the academic pressure from the educational institute. They are kept busy primarily with books all through their academic year. The emphasis is on attaining information about a particular subject. Consequently, it is even doubtful if they really attain the capacity for reasoning and critical thinking. It is, therefore, not surprising that they lack other aspects of development.
Education becomes an agent of change by following the design of “Integral Educational Paradigm”. Its elements are: Context, Experience, Reflection, Action, and Evaluation-as explained below:
Context: The Education Institute needs to have a platform to know the personal background of the learners before beginning to impart information on any particular subject. Once the context is known, we can expect an effective fulfillment of the purpose of the course. This implies that there is an element of relevancy in the teaching-learning process.
Experience: It is understood that the experience varies from class to class, from subject to subject and from person to person. The contextual experience of the learners will be of help to the institute in designing the course content as well as its presentation.
Reflection: The key to Integral Educational Paradigm is reflection, whereby the learner is enabled to develop a fuller understanding of the subject and its meaningful application to life. The learner may then be able to act promptly as a result of his/her learning. Such a process of reflection also helps the learner to grow in analysis, reasoning ability and critical thinking.
Action: The achievement in learning has to be manifested in action - action that benefits the society at large. Education should make the individual a man or a woman for others and with others. Only then can education be considered to be meaningful in life.
Evaluation: The curriculum should provide space for the learners to make an 'examination of conscience' on the process of learning from experience. Such a process gives the learner an opportunity to make an assessment of his/her achievements and failures. An evaluation of this kind enables the learner to build on achievements and avoid failures in future.
By way of conclusion, we may say that the Integral Educational Paradigm transforms the orientations of human beings as learners. One can expect to see changes in the learner’s character, behavior pattern, thought process, and attitude towards self and others thus resulting in the formation of a complete human being.